Cher Public

Back street love affairs burst into flame behind closed doors

Born on this day in 1923 actress Gloria Grahame

Born on this day in 1893 baritone Arthur Endrèze.

Born on this day in 1904 soprano Helen Jepson.

Born on this day in 1908 soprano/mezzo-soprano Rose Bampton.

Happy 69th birthday soprano Mariana Nicolesco.

  • La Cieca

    “But the real dilemma here is the current state of James Levine’s conducting, a grab-bag of flashy effects adding up to a big zero.”

    • I couldn’t agree more with your assessment of the Requiem (and also that of Mr. Corwin). That ridiculously long and pretentious pause at the end was the only part of the evening that made me lean forward and think “Wow, is something going on?” I was neither shaken nor stirred by this precarious performance, but several martinis may have made it more bearable.
      The Callas Live remasterings are a great deal and essential (even though I have them all in various previous incarnations) especially the Bernstein-led Sonnambula, restored to pitch. And, ohime!, who knew that Act I was originally televised but was destroyed. Damn you, Battista!

      • Camille

        What DID go wrong, Milady, as I don’t know what it was but every cell in my body screamed “NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!!!!!!!

        Sad I didn’t think of martinis. Or at least some TEA!

        • You know Camille, I wish I could put my finger on it .
          La Cieca and Mr. Corwin have already weighed in with very even-handed critiques, and there just wasn’t that much to extol in the credit ledger.
          Despite Maestro Levine’s inscrutable conducting the orchestra was able to produce its customary beautiful sonorities. The chorus was “on”, and when the Met chorus is on, that’s damned good.
          But like you, I just couldn’t connect at any level to this, a work which usually plunges me into some reflective abyss where it’s best not to linger. (Actually, given all the bad news these days, I’m oddly grateful it had absolutely no effect -or I would have been reaching for multiple martinis instead of a nice Mariage Earl Grey Oolong.)

          It must have been the non-chemistry among the singers and conductor. Stoyanova is an an elegant singer, and I admired her intentions, but not so much her execution of them. Semenchuck is a singer whom I have grown to like, a lot, (after a rocky introduction via Lady Macbeth), but whereas Stoyanova had too little, Ekaterina had, at times, too much butch tone, They did manage to duet skillfully.
          I give poor Antonenko credit for trying to sing with variety and nuance, but the voice is just not made that way, and it’s become quite worn. Nobody loves Furlanetto more than I do, but he sounded decrepit and out of sorts.
          And that milking that final silence in anticipation of a thunderous ovation (which never came) made me cringe.
          But you always make my day with something you’ve said or posted, so while I have your shell-like ear, and OT, thank you so much for posting lovely Carol Neblett’s Air du Miroir! Fearless singing (and costuming)! I’m sorry that I didn’t lay more incense at her feet when she was actively performing. I did get to see her once, as Louise, and it was vibrantly sung and acted.
          And speaking of Thais, last Wednesday’s broadcast was a real winner of the season. I was in the house for the Saturday matinee and it was good, very good. But a week later, even with Finley out, the whole cast had settled in vocally, and Ms. Perez had all three top D’s solidly and beautifully worked into what was already a praiseworthy effort.
          p.s. “The Cobweb” -- Ah! Ritzy mental hospitals, Fifties style. Can’t beat it. That minx Grahame causes mayhem with those new drapes for the library. Hilarious.

          • Camille

            I was previewing “The Cobweb” today and I do feel it to be a masterpiece of unintended hilarity and bathos. I am a very great admirer of Oscar Levant, as well, and seek out all his films and this one came as a surprise. Miss Gish I have rather lately become acquainted with more closely, chiefly by finally having seen her famous tour de force in “Broken Blossoms”. Before that, she was just a nice old lady who outwitted Robert Mitchum, not an easy task.
            And, big bonus, it has the first “twelve-tone based” musical score in the movies. Too bad Arnie S. didn’t live to hear his progeny on the screen.

            I am glad you had a tryst with Thaïs and happy to hear Ms Pérez did well as she is such a sweet artist, and that you are still true to Les Frères! That one I haven’t tried and these days I’ve been back to my six cup espresso mornings. Yes, really.

            Imagine that her Louise would have been quite good. Arlene Saunders also sang it and I dont know whom else? Norman Treigle wiuld have been perfect as Père and Any old Bitch would have been good enuf for Maman! I remember when all those Louises were being sung in far-off New York City and wanted to hear one so badly. STILL haven’t! Hoped Fleming and Jerry Hadley would have brought the centennial production to New York, but no. Likely I’ll die without seeing it at this point.

            It’s just that I have never NEVER had such a reaction to this Requiem as I did. It was positively nonplussing. Maybe I have tired blood. Need Geritol.

            Till next time, Milady, keep your tea bags for the recycle bin and a flask of armagnac in your vest for the cold nights coming our way.

            • You are so right, Camille -- the Met had the chance to have Fleming and Hadley in Louise but missed the boat. Poor Louise just don’t get no respect! I suppose besides Saunders (lovely artist) and Neblett, there weren’t many to choose from in the NYCO heyday who did the part -- did Bubbles ever get around to it then, or was she fully occupied with the English throne by then?
              But don’t give up hope -- I am sending mental emails to Mr. Gelb and Ms. Yoncheva about a new Louise at the Met in the near future. (Yes, la Mere is so relentlessly méchant -- did Charpentier have mother issues?) I don’t know who to pick as Julien. Borras has the height of voice but not the volume. Any suggestions?
              Well, here’s to Lillian Gish, Arnold Schoenberg, and six cups of espresso!
              A la prochainie fois!

            • southerndoc1

              Sills did revisit Louise at NYCO fairly late in the game and it was deemed a success. Fleming decided after the SF run that it put too much strain on her middle voice and dropped it .

            • Camille

              I figured that it was a middle voice issue as the orchestration in the third act is positively wagnérienne! Tant pis pour nous! She likewise gave up the Meistersinger Eva for the same reason a couple years before. Schade!

              No recollection that Sills had actually sung the role even if her recording of “Depuis le jour” is around rather much. She had a way with high tessitura French things in her early days, and her Philine must have really been something, but, frankly, wonder how this would have sounded in the late sixties even if deemed a success.

            • southerndoc1

              Actually, I think the retour a Louise was in the early seventies. Much was said about how much she and her Julien (? memory speaks and dimly says John Alexander?) rolled around on the floor together.

            • CKurwenal

              Since you mention it, just the other day I found 2 little bits of Fleming’s Eva on YouTube -- they’re astonishingly good:


              She’s definitely giving everything, but she’s got it to give, it doesn’t sound beyond her.

            • Camille

              Oh how nice! I hadn’t noticed this as I’d been so busy.

              Yes, it was originally the beauty of the middle voice which I liked so much and I felt her decision to leave Eva behind her motivated by some other reasoning??? Bayreuth is not nearly so big as the Met, one would think it possible. I remember this all so well because she gave an interview at the time of her first Cos? fan tutte, in which she stated how relieved she was to be back singing in what she percieved to be the right music for her voice. For some reason it stuck in memory as something just did not add up.

              Surprised to see her Eva has been preserved and have never heard it before, so Thanks!

            • Ah, I thought so. Thanks, southerndoc. Much as I love Sills, her commercial Louise does not please. Now that’s interesting about Fleming’s reason to drop the role. The lady surely knows her voice, so I must accept the fait accompli. Where’s Mary Garden when you need her?

            • Camille

              I will be seconding mental e-mails to the appropriate officials as well, although I remain as yet unconvinced on Yoncheva. After Luisa floats into town I’ll make up my mind. If Monsieur Borras could get certain aspects of his voice together he would be viable for at least he sings in French. It’s a rather strenuous sing, however, and I’m sure he is better off for now in a more lyrical vein, yet.

              Adieu pour maintenant! Je bois à toi!

            • I know what you mean about Yoncheva. I think she’s talented, skillful, beautiful, and a good actress -- am going to see her in both Luisa and as Floria T (which gives me a little anxiety).
              Also, with Borras, he’s a bit stolid onstage. And Julien is a rough sing indeed.

            • Camille

              We’ll all soon find out now, won’t we, Milady?

              I thought Luisa may be good for her but a friend of mine advised me NO, since he doesn’t care for her coloratura technique. I frankly don’t know. She gave a very creditable and affecting performance as the Élisabeth in the Parisian Don Carlos but don’t understand her or where she is coming from exactly. I thought she was basically an musica antica singer?On verra!

              Must buy new tea!! Ciao!

            • Yoncheva will be singing Mimi in the Bastille’s upcoming La Bohème. It seems to be set in outer space, so I hope she’s ready for some loud booing (of the production) on opening night (tonight, December 1).


            • rhinestonecowgirl

              I like some of Guth’s productions, especially that Don Giovanni in the forest, but this looks pretty crazy. For one thing, how do you sing through a space helmet? And what’son the menu at Cafe Momus?

            • I’ve only seen two.

              One was his “cardboard box” Rigoletto in 2016, not a huge success I thought: “It’s always frustrating when, as sometimes happens, the efforts of an excellent cast are undermined by the distancing effects of an unsuccessful production. So it was this week at the Bastille, with this Rigoletto -- or so it seemed to me, at any rate. As also quite often happens, the initial idea was reasonable enough but unconvincingly carried through.” M. Fabiano’s wig was memorably stiff.

              The other was his “courtyard/garden” Lohengrin, which left me puzzled: “Musically and vocally it was pretty outstanding and the production is, from a design point of view, handsome enough, albeit rather dour: clearly not much fun to be had in Guth’s Brabant. The trouble is I still, 72 hours later, haven’t made head or tail of it, and reading around I find I’m not alone: some critics remain baffled.”

            • grimoaldo2

              La Bohème on the moon and on a spaceship, performed by astronauts…it will be interesting to see the reaction….

            • I should have been there this coming Monday but will be in the US on business. I may just be able to slip in on December 29, but in that case with a different cast.

              From what I read today, people are moaning about it before it’s even started. Advance publicity will encourage the boo-ers…

            • fantasia2000

              I’ve seen two Claus Guth’s productions so far, and both were Handel’s operas; the staged “Messiah” at Theater an der Wien that somehow in a weird way worked, and “Rodelinda” at Teatro Real, where the main focus was Flavio (Rodelinda’s son) hunted by the ghosts of everybody else, and it didn’t really work. But both weren’t as crazy as this Boheme, it seems. I shudder to think what his brand new Jephtha (also in Paris) will look like (I already have ticket for it).

            • Cicciabella

              Shudder no more. Guth’s Jephtha’s one of his best: beautifully moving. I’m confident you will appreciate it.

            • fantasia2000

              Thank you for the encouragement, Cicciabella. I forgot that his Jephtha was premiered at Dutch National Opera. I surely hope it’ll be great; on paper, the cast is amazing. Will Christie conducting Les Arts Florissants with Ian Bostridge, Tim Mead, Philippe Sly, Marie-Nicole Lemieux!

            • I heard from a director friend who saw it in Amsterdam that the Jephtha was very good.

            • fantasia2000

              Thanks NPW! Are you going as well? This would be my 6th show at OdP, I feel like a subscriber! LOL (In fact, I’d have seen more shows there than back home (SF Opera)) I’m thinking to catch the Saariaho also, but the reviews were pretty bad
              (slow and unengaging) despite Jaroussky’s excellent involvement.

            • I have Jephtha in my subscription,yes.

            • MisterSnow

              Bubbles did it at NYCO in 1962 when she returned to the stage after a semiretirement (due to the issues with her children). John Alexander and Treigle costarred and it was conducted by Jean Morel. It was one of her first triumphs and one of her first great collaborations with Treigle. She revisited the role again in 1977 with Alexander again and Frances Bible and Robert Hale as her parents. She also recorded the role (with Gedda, I think).

            • Thank you, Mister Snow. I thought that feisty French gal was an early high watermark for Belle. It’s a shame there are no online archives for NYCO to search (at least I don’t think there are). In 1962 she would have been perfect. In just about anything.

            • rapt

              Somewhere along the line I picked up a copy of the NYCO annals. For 1962, it lists a single Louise for Sills on Halloween, following several starring Saunders.

            • Wow, just one? Well, that was a difficult time for her with the family, wrangling with Corsaro for roles, and even deciding to stay in the game.

  • Camille

    Lieber Bill—this is for you in memory of that wonderful Daphne we got to hear two summers ago and to celebrate Frau Hangler’s successful evolution, as well as to remember Mrs Bampton’s birthday. She lived to a very ripe
    old age and was, interestingly, the first singer of Samuel Barber’s opus 3 Dover Beach, usually the beloved possession of the baritone voice.

    As well, it’s also out of sheer curiosity to see how Rose Bampton will fare in this high tessitura. Guessing Kleiber wouldn’t have let her do it if she weren’t up to it?!

  • Camille

    La Cieca, where and HOW do you FIND these movies? This one “The Cobweb”, has everything—seamy backstreet sex, psychiatry couches and confidences violated, Plus! Lillian GISH AND Oscar LEVANT!!! I would go watch a dog race if Oscar Levant were featured in it, so I’ve got to find this immortal little hidden vase from the base of Hollywood-Parthenon, et tout de suite!

    And by the way, GG weren’t a nice gal IRL, neither!